When listening to connected speech, the human brain can extract multiple levels of linguistic units, such as syllables, words, and sentences. It has been hypothesized that the time scale of cortical activity encoding each linguistic unit is commensurate with the time scale of that linguistic unit in speech. Evidence for the hypothesis originally comes from studies using the frequency-tagging paradigm that presents each linguistic unit at a constant rate, and more recently extends to studies on natural speech. For natural speech, it is sometimes assumed that neural encoding of different levels of linguistic units is captured by the neural response tracking speech envelope in different frequency bands (e.g., around 1 Hz for phrases, around 2 Hz for words, and around 4 Hz for syllables). Here, we analyze the coherence between speech envelope and idealized responses, each of which tracks a single level of linguistic unit. Four units, that is, phones, syllables, words, and sentences, are separately considered. We show that the idealized phone-, syllable-, and word-tracking responses all correlate with the speech envelope both around 3–6 Hz and below ∼1 Hz. Further analyses reveal that the 1-Hz correlation mainly originates from the pauses in connected speech. The results here suggest that a simple frequency-domain decomposition of envelope-tracking activity cannot separate the neural responses to different linguistic units in natural speech.

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